Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam performs in Auckland, New Zealand, in January.

Story highlights

Eddie Vedder plays what he calls "the most powerful song ever written": "Imagine"

Vedder has been criticized for anti-war remarks

Comments at UK concert perceived as anti-Israel by some

"Call me naïve," Vedder said in website post

CNN —  

Eddie Vedder has a message for his critics: “Imagine.”

The Pearl Jam frontman addressed recent criticism of his anti-war comments by playing the John Lennon classic at a solo show Friday in Meco, Portugal.

“I think it is the most powerful song ever written, which is why I have never played it. It seems like maybe there is a reason to play it,” Vedder said, according to a video posted on the website Consequence of Sound.

“(Being) anti-war make(s) you pro many things. Pro peace, pro human, pro evolution,” he said before introducing the song. “Makes you pro communication, pro diplomacy, pro love, pro understanding, pro forgiveness.”

In recent weeks, Vedder has made headlines, first with an antiwar rant at a concert in Milton Keynes, England, and later comments on Pearl Jam’s website.

“I swear to f****** God, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill!” Vedder said at the English show before singing Edwin Starr’s “War.” “They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them.”

Those comments were viewed by some Israeli publications as anti-Israel, Rolling Stone reported. One Israeli DJ, who was hoping to bring Pearl Jam to Israel, said that Vedder was now “invited not to come here.”

In response, Vedder reiterated his anti-war beliefs on Pearl Jam’s website in a post titled “Imagine That – I’m Still Anti-War.”

“Call me naïve. I’d rather be naïve, heartfelt and hopeful than resigned to say nothing for fear of misinterpretation and retribution,” he wrote. “War hurts. It hurts no matter which sides the bombs are falling on. … I know that we can’t let the sadness turn into apathy. And I do know we are better off when we reach out to each other.”

He then quoted from “Imagine”: ” ‘I hope someday you’ll join us,… ’ ” and added a bit of Paul McCartney: “Won’t you listen to what the man said.”